Jessabelle (2014) **
D: Kevin Greutert
C: Sarah Snook, Mark Webber, Joelle Carter, David Andrews, Ana de la Reguera, Chris Ellis, Brian Hallisay, Amber Stevens West, Vaughn Wilson
Plot Synopsis: Returning to her childhood home, in Louisiana, to recuperate from a horrific car accident, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return and has no intention of letting her escape.
Review: Jessabelle takes a mystery like approach to a tale involving the supernatural, in which a wheelchair bound woman begins to experience a series of hauntings. Convinced that a presence is out to claim her life, she tries to get to the bottom of it all, but along the way, she discovers that some secrets are better left alone as the history surrounding her family's misdeeds are revealed layer by layer.
By setting up Jessabelle as a mystery, that unfolds over the course of the film's running time, it keeps viewers engaged as to what's going to happen next, what new plot revelation is going to come to life. As a result, the pacing rarely lags. There's always something happening.
Starring in the lead role is Sarah Snook. She has an arresting camera presence. Co-star Mark Webber makes for an appealing romantic interest. The cinematography is striking. It's moderately suspenseful. All around, this is a well produced, well cast film.
There's just one problem. While the mystery type approach always keeps things moving along, once you know the answers to the film, it's absolutely worthless. It's like a crossword puzzle. It's fun filling in the spaces, but after doing so, it's a scrap piece of paper.
The characters aren't so much characters, but pieces that simply exist to fill in the spaces when called upon. Every element exists in a strict vacuum from the characters, to the plot, to the setting. Once you've seen it, what's there left to take in?
The best films invite viewers to become a part of the world that they're creating, to become involved in the plight's of its characters, to view them repeatedly, so that you can dissect all of the various tidbits that you've watched. In neatly crossing its T's and dotting its I's, Jessabelle leaves viewers with zilch to grab ahold of, outside of its mystery like scenario. This is a film that's good for one viewing and nothing more. [PG-13] 90 minutes.
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